Book Report – The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille

The author, Clotaire Rapaille explains how every culture has its own mindset, which teaches us about whom we are at our core. According to Mr. Rapaille these mind sets generate codes or action principles that are based on each distinctive cultural unconscious. This is what he uses to base the idea that traditional surveys and other means of gauging public opinion are not helpful because people tend to provide answers that they believe are the ones you want to hear.

To decode cultures for their unconscious imperatives, you must learn the code for that imprint. Having a clear understanding of how people live the way they do will decipher the way you approach them to accept and embrace what you offer. The book offers numerous examples of cultural coding, helping the reader visualize the concept. As an unusual example, he explains that America perceives cheese as “dead” which translates as wrapping the “dead item” in plastic and keeping it in our own personal morgue (fridge). However, for French individuals, cheese is a living organism that is wrapped in cloth and store in room temperature. The simplicity of the example does not invalidate the complexity of the notion. In the French culture, food safety regulations are not as pertinent within the public as they are in America, providing that specific culture with an authentic mind set when it comes to food preservation.

The quote that had a major impact on me throughout the book was: “My primary intent is to liberate those who read this book. There is remarkable freedom gained in understanding why you act the way you do. This freedom will affect every part of your life, from the relationships you have, to your feelings about your possessions and the things you do, to the attitudes you have about America’s place in the world.” The author is not only relaying an important and relevant way to improve marketing, he is using his knowledge in anthropology to help any reader, marketer’s perspective aside, to profoundly understand why we act the way we do and how we see what we own. Despite its focus on marketing, this book represents an important contribution to understanding how we are all products of our culture.

Having personal experience with the “shock” of cultural change, I found this book to be validated in many ways. I started reading this book as a marketing tool, but was fascinated with the anthropologist aspect of it. In my opinion this book would help us gain a better perspective on cultural practices and beliefs. Also, this book contributes in understanding how cultures work their way into people in general.

NOTE: Oliver Law Firm has a reading program and an office library full of many great books. Our mission is to inspire, train, and mentor our work family to improve ourselves and client services.

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